So far, one consequence that I did not see coming, involves home inspector training. As a member of the licensing board and the home inspection program coordinator at Bellingham Technical College, this one has me caught in the door as someone keeps opening and closing it on my head.
The problem is caused by a simple enough situation. The new law states that, as of September 1, 2009, anyone who had not been in the field at least two years, as of the effective date of the law (June 12, 2008), must take an approved 120 hour home inspection course and acquire 40 hours of field training before obtaining a license. Those who had been working as inspectors, as of that date, will have until the end of June of the next year to do so. Those who had done at least 100 inspections and had two years experience, can bypass education requirements. Every inspector will have to take a test. Since the new law is only a few months away from taking effect, that means anyone paying for training now needs to make sure it is an approved course. Otherwise, they are likely to be throwing their money away.
That is the rub. This all takes more time than was anticipated. The Home Inspector Licensing Board has been busy trying to write rules that make sense and, within the last month we finally approved a model curriculum for approved training. Furthermore, just this past week we approved the new standards of practice and code of ethics. Since it is mandatory that the standards be taught in approved courses, no course could be approved until those standards were adapted.
Bottom Line: We are now probably a couple months out from the State Department of Licensing reviewing applications and then approving the first training courses.
Now here is the problem that has students frazzled. At Bellingham Technical College, for more than a decade, we have taught inspection classes. Because there are no approved courses, including our own state college level class, we are delaying running any classes until approval of the course is assured/granted. So far, I have had to cancel two classes that were set to run and had students signed-up. We had thought, months back, that things would be farther along than they are. The last class I canceled would have begun this coming February. We have some disgruntled potential students. They want into the field and a couple of them were signed up in both classes that were later canceled. Not understanding the circumstances, I think some of them think we are being troublesome, just canceling classes because we do not want to run them. As a result of that concern, I am writing this post and including the information that follows. I think, in the future, I will send students who want to know why we are not running the inspection classes to this post.
Here is my letter.
Dear prospective student,
There is a problem providing you with training at this time. Actually there are two issues here. What I am telling you is illustrated below with information from the State of Washington website. First, you will see that, since you are planning to enter the field at this time, you have no chance of being grandfathered in. To be temporarily grandfathered in would require two years experience and a minimum of 100 inspections, as of June 12, 2008. There is no question about it, you will have to complete training at an APPROVED school if you wish to enter the field. If you were to train now, since no schools are approved by the state, you are taking a big risk and you might be paying for training that will, later, not count in the eyes of the state. The law says:
Education and experience
You must have the following education and experience before you can apply for a home inspector license.
- If you have less than 2 years experience, you must have:
- 120 hours of classroom instruction in board-approved courses. The school or instructor will be required to give you a certificate showing you successfully completed the course, and submit copies of the completion certificates to us.
- 40 hours of field training supervised by a licensed home inspector in good standing. The board will advise us how applicants will be required to prove they have completed this training. The home inspector who supervises you may be required to sign a statement that you have successfully completed your field training.
It is possible, but not by any means a certainty, that some schools might end up having previous courses approved retroactively. We do not know. That not being a sure thing, I think it best to delay classes until everything is ironed out. Some of you have asked, and are wondering, where you can go -- right now -- to get training. I am afraid that the honest answer is "nowhere." As I said, there are no approved schools. If any school tells you that they are approved, that is inaccurate information. The state department of licensing has warned schools that they may not advertise that their courses are approved.
We know this is a catch 22 -- You must have taken state approved training to get into the field but, right now, no such training is available anywhere on earth. All I can say is to keep checking in with me and I will try to let everyone know the ongoing status of home inspector education and the BTC program. We are all working in the right direction, but this process takes time. The message from the state, warning all schools to refrain from advertising that they offer approved education at this time, is below.
TO: All Home Inspector Education Providers
FROM: Home Inspector Program Staff
SUBJECT: APPROVED COURSES & TRAINING FOR HOME INSPECTORS
The Department has received several telephone calls as well as emails
from people asking about, or telling us that they have completed the
"approved" course work necessary to become a Home Inspector.
The Home Inspector Board is the authority responsible for establishing
course approvals requirements. The Board anticipates they will make
these determinations in the very near future. There are no approved
courses at this time.
Please be advised that schools providing education/training to students
seeking to use the course work to become licensed should tell their
students that the course work has not been evaluated or approved.
Thank you for cooperation.
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspections